Court may order retrial for 9/11 conspirator

12th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 October 2006, Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - Germany's High Court signalled Thursday that it would probably order yet another trial for Mounir al- Motassadeq, one of only two people convicted of roles in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. At a one-day appeal hearing, judges sympathized with prosecutors and said they would announce their decision on November 16. Presiding appeal judge Klaus Tolksdorf said the trial judge had made a mistake in law. If Motassadeq were to be tried in

12 October 2006

Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - Germany's High Court signalled Thursday that it would probably order yet another trial for Mounir al- Motassadeq, one of only two people convicted of roles in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

At a one-day appeal hearing, judges sympathized with prosecutors and said they would announce their decision on November 16. Presiding appeal judge Klaus Tolksdorf said the trial judge had made a mistake in law.

If Motassadeq were to be tried in Hamburg, Germany for a third time on the same charges, the evidence from the second trial could stand and lawyers would only need to argue its legal meaning, prosecutor Gerhard Altvater proposed at the High Court hearing.

Moroccan university student Motassadeq, 32, was a close friend of Mohammed Atta and other pilots of the hijacked planes that hit the New York World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. He has been free on bail while the High Court reviews his seven-year jail term.

Motassadeq stands convicted of membership in the terrorist cell. The prosecutors had appealed against his acquittal on another charge of assisting 3,000 murders. A first conviction and sentence to 15 years were quashed on a legal technicality.

Only one other 9/11 helper, Zacarias Moussaoui, who is also of Moroccan descent, has been tried. He received life imprisonment on May 4 from a US court.

Presiding judge Klaus Tolksdorf said at the start of the one-day appeal hearing in Karlsruhe that if the trial judge was satisfied Motassadeq knew in advance of the attacks, he should have been convicted both of being part of the cell and of assisting murder.

Although it is usual for German judges to say what they are thinking, lawyers said Tolksdorf was particularly blunt.

"Our preliminary estimate is that everything suggests the federal prosecutor's appeal will be successful," Tolksdorf said.

After the 2001 attacks, Germany stepped up surveillance of Islamic radicals on its soil. This week it arrested an unemployed Iraqi national, Ibrahim R, for circulating video and audio messages from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in internet chat rooms.

In Karlsruhe, a prosecutor, Rainer Griesbaum, said anyone taking part from Germany in online discussions where al-Qaeda was praised and its terrorist attacks glorified would be punishable.

He said Thursday the evidence so far indicated no direct contact between R and bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

R has been charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organization. The 36-year-old Iraqi father of three had found the audio and video messages on the internet and passed them on in chat rooms on at least 28 occasions since September 24, 2005.

"The evidence shows we have got the right man," said Griesbaum. Although R was only a "small cog," such propagandists were part of the network as a whole.

DPA

Subject: German news

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